Zimbabwe-Shona minstrel Thomas Mapfumo specialized in the genre of political songs (chimurenga music) that was in vogue during the civil war. Substituting electric guitar (Jonah Sithole) and drums for the mbira thumb piano and hosho rattlers, Mapfumo created his own personal hybrid of African and western music. His Acid Band debuted with the epochal Hokoyo (1978), for which he was jailed by the white government. After his release and the fall of the white government, Mapfumo released a more accomplished, but no less vibrant, Gwindingwi Rine Shumba (1980).
Despite the use (for the first time) of mbiras, Mabasa (1984) mellowed down considerably and introduced a languid fusion of soul, rock and reggae, which was further refined on Mr Music (1985) and especially Chimurenga for Justice (1986), perhaps the best of his middle age, credited to the Blacks Unlimited.
Ironically, with Corruption (1989) and the more traditional Chamunorwa (1991) he began to attack the very government that he had helped install in power. Shumba (1991) and Ndangariro (1992) are anthologies of the early (revolutionary) years. Musically, Hondo (1993) marked a sort of personal renaissance, but was followed by the mediocre Vanhu Vatema (1994). As the albums Chimurenga Forever (1996), African Spirit Music (1998) and Chimurenga 98 (1999) kept repeating the same tune, Mapfumo got in trouble with the government and eventually fled to the USA. Manhungetunge (2000), perhaps the best of the bunch, Chimurenga Explosion (2000), Dreams & Secrets (2000), a collaboration with jazz trumpet player Wadada Leo Smith, Chimurenga Rebel (2002) and Toi Toi (2003) tried to leverage his position as a dissident, but being persecuted by a black government does not "sell" as well as being persecuted by a white government.
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